This is not another history from the Mexican or Mexican-American viewpoint, but a study of how the war with Mexico grew out of the spirit of Manifest Destiny and the conflict between anti-and pro-slavery forces. Using songs, political cartoons and extensive quotations from newspaper editorials and political speeches, Meltzer shows how Polk won the presidency by combining support for the claim to all of Oregon as far north as the 54th parallel, a. cause which was especially favored in the anti-slavery north, with southern support for the annexation of Texas. Polk then proceeded (as is detailed in Walton's Congress and American Foreign Policy, KR, 1972) to settle with the British over Oregon while going to war over Texas. Meltzer devotes some attention to the very fluid political situation in Mexico and to Santa Anna's overconfident strategy, but the primary sources principally reveal the American soldier's disillusionment with the violence, cruelty and bungling of this "most abominable war." In one especially interesting chapter, Meltzer reports on widespread desertion from the American army and on the formation of the San Patricio Battalion, composed of former soldiers (many of them Irish Catholic immigrants) who fought for the Mexican cause in a number of important battles. As always, the Living History format allows for both first-hand views of the much lauded giants of the period -- particularly the Great Compromiser, Henry Clay, who compromised himself out of his chance for the White House -- and of the average citizen, whether soldier, hopeful settler or abolitionist. And Meltzer draws together a number of critical issues -- including slavery, expansionism and the Presidential conduct of foreign policy -- which converge to make the Mexican War such an important period in the American past.